Kanye West sued by former Donda Academy teachers
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Kanye West, who legally changed his name to Ye, is being sued by two former teachers of his Donda Academy, a Simi Valley, California, school he opened in 2022. The teachers, Cecilia Hailey and her daughter, Chekarey Byers, allege the conditions at the private Christian school violate state regulations.
In the lawsuit, obtained by Entertainment Tonight, Byers and Hailey say they were the only Black women teaching at the school and allege they were discriminated against by their wages being withheld or being improperly paid. The school and other staff members are also listed as defendants in the suit.
The women also allege the school didn’t have janitors or medical staff nor did they follow nutritional guidelines and served sushi every day at lunch. They say West spent $10,000 on the sushi per week and students could not bring outside food except water to the campus.
They also allege the school lacked “educational services, additional testing or individualized learning plans.”
A state meal mandate requires all kindergarten through 12th-grade schools – including public and charter schools – to provide breakfast and lunch free of charge each day. Any student can request a meal, “regardless of their free or reduced-price meal eligibility,” the mandate states.
The meals must be “nutritionally adequate,” falling under federal child nutrition program regulations, and the state’s list of meal requirements for schools provides specifications on things like calories, saturated fats and vegetables.
The state of California requires regular standardized testing for all students in all grades and students are tested on several subjects including math, Spanish, science and language arts.
West allegedly had a list of other off-hand rules, like disallowing utensils and demanding all cups and bowls be gray. Art was not allowed on classroom walls and teachers couldn’t give students crossword puzzles or coloring sheets. The plaintiffs allege no one was allowed to wear jewelry, because West “reportedly did not like jewelry,” and classes could not be on the second floor because West “was reportedly afraid of stairs.”
They also claim kids were locked inside during the day, could only wear all-black designer clothing and that cleaning products with chemicals were not allowed, so teachers had to use “acid water and microfiber cloths.” On top of all of these rules, they also allege there were no chairs or tables provided.
Hailey and Byers allege that in March they were told in the school parking lot that they were being fired and were not given a reason. They believe they were fired in retaliation for their complaints about the school.
“We’re standing up because it’s the right thing to do,” Hailey said in a statement. “This is not about trying to defame a celebrity. This is about the right thing to do for these children.”
CBS News has reached out to Hailey and Byers’ lawyer as well as a representative for the school and is awaiting response.
West named the academy after his late mother and also operates a sports management agency called Donda Sports. West has often attracted controversy but last year he was widely condemned for many several antisemitic comments. He lost brand deals, including a $1.5 billion deal with Adidas, and temporarily shut down Donda Academy, according to CBS Los Angeles.
At least two athletes left Donda Sports in the wake of West’s offensive comments and several other high-profile people condemned him, including high-profile talent agent Ari Emmanuel, who urged businesses to cut ties with West. The rapper and fashion designer was also suspended from social media platforms and lost a large chunk of his net worth due to the fallout.